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Yay summer fruits
and treats!! We love that the fruits are so readily available, affordable and
so delicious eaten fresh, rather than dried or in a juice (as we do in other
seasons of the year) which concentrates the sugar content in quantum leaps. Plus, we love our ice cream, smoothies and
picnic treats. But where does it all
line up – health-wise? We’ll start with
fruits, and then I’ll show you a fun
trick that’ll make it easy for all of us to make wise choices with other
Health Fact: Not all fruits are of equal value as far as nutrition and weight management. It seems the Lord had the “opposition” principle in mind even when it came to the garden, and with the facts in mind, we can each choose what is best for our own health needs. (Please don’t get too carried away with this perspective, but it is interesting to ponder!)
Health Fact: Even a vegetarian or someone following a Whole Foods Plant Based lifestyle must nod its head to the truth that fruits, though delicious and nutritious, are loaded with calories and fructose. For those who want to lose weight, fruit takes second place to veggies.
Health Fact: Fruit is healthy and delicious. Keep enjoying it! Just because a fruit is more sugary than you’d expect doesn’t mean it’s comparable to eating candy. Fruits are filled with a variety of vitamins and nutrients that make them much healthier than candy! Think of them as Heavenly Father’s candy with a bonus because diets filled with fruits provide many health benefits.
Why Fruit Might Hinder Weight Loss
Dr. Mike Roussell at Shape.com says: “Fruit is high in the simple sugar fructose, which is the main reason why many people trying to lose weight remove it from their diet. Unlike glucose, the most common simple sugar that’s sent to your muscles, brain, and other organs for them to use as energy, fructose is only processed by your liver.”
Why is that bad? If your liver already has ample energy, there is a higher likelihood that your liver will repackage the excess fructose as fat, saving it for use at a later time. While this is a biochemical truth, its impact on your waistline is blown out of proportion, especially when you consider that fruit isn’t even one of the hidden top five sources of fructose in the American diet. The big five that seem and are often promoted as safe healthy are filled to the brim with sugar are fruit drinks, breakfast cereals, bread, condiments and yogurt.”
So which fruits take home medals for best fruits for highest nutrient and lowest sugar? While I’m only one judge on the panel, these are my winners:
GOLD! Berries, especially raspberries and blueberries (Mind you, we’re talking eating them fresh and not in a gooey dessert!) Those rich, vibrant, vital colors are loaded with nutrients that fuel rich, vibrant, vital health.
Raspberries: What makes this fruit stand out? Raspberries are often touted for their anti-cancer benefits. This is due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. In studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role. Raspberries can lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and even slow down the development or reproduction of cancer cells.
New research is now showing raspberries may also be able to change the signals that are sent to potential or existing cancer cells. In studies involving breast, cervical, colon, esophageal and prostate cancers, raspberry phytonutrients have been shown to play an important role. Raspberries can lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and even slow down the development or reproduction of cancer cells.
New research is now showing raspberries may also be able to change the signals that are sent to potential or existing cancer cells.
Blueberries: What makes this fruit stand out? Rich in powerful polyphenol compounds, blueberries have been shown to uniquely protect the brain against harmful neurodegenerative factors such as free radicals, radiation, inflammation and excitotoxicity.
Blueberries may even reverse age-related shortfalls in cognitive and motor function. Scientists have noted that blueberry compounds are readily absorbed into the bloodstream, then cross into the brain where they influence regions involved in memory and motor function. This suggests many potential benefits in preventing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
SILVER! Small fruits such as small apples, plums, and kiwi are superstars for health, simply because of their pre-measured size. Like compact, musclebound young female gymnasts, what you see is what you get. A fist-sized apple or peach, or 2-3 kiwis or plums is a ready-made serving and the best way to minimize your sugar intake is to be mindful of your portion size. With these fruits, Mother Nature has kindly packaged them for us! Eating just one or two leave us satisfied. It’s easy to go overboard on cherries or grapes, which though nutritious, are easy to eat a lot of unless you take the effort to measure out a healthy, single-sized portion.
BRONZE! Peaches! While these juicy, fuzzy fruits have about 13 grams of sugar per cup, they also have 3 grams of fiber to help your body use the sugar more efficiently. They are also loaded with vitamins like A, C, and E, and antioxidants that help fight disease and slow aging. They’re also “prepackaged’ but keep in mind that fist-sized peach is one serving.
Are you disappointed that watermelon, one of summer’s most popular healthy fruit treats didn’t make it? Watermelon is very high in sugar, but it is also high in nutrients, so no need to eliminate it from you summer entirely.
Watermelon is high in Vitamin C, but it gets its best scores for lycopene. What is lycopene? In simple terms, it’s what makes watermelon red! Lycopene is a carotenoid, a natural color pigment. It is only in the last decade that lycopene has become widely recognized as a potential protector against the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. One of the more unusual aspects of watermelon is its rich supply of the amino acid, citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid that is commonly converted by our kidneys and other organ systems (including cells that line our blood vessels) into arginine (another amino acid).
While I wish there was a book about the health benefits of summer frui to document the scientific merits of each, I believe that fabulous summer fruit “in the season thereof” it is our Heavenly Father’s way of saying “Enjoy life! Enjoy food! Choose wisely and enjoy the treats that I have created for you.”
I’m remembering my
old Weight Watcher Leader days when we encouraged members to not eat
more than 1-2 servings of fruit per day. Although I know that on many
weight loss programs fruit is unlimited, if we want to lose weight …
1-2 servings per day is STILL not a bad idea! Especially being aware
of the must sugary ones and — speaking of the growers who can now control so
many things — to remember that large oranges and apples are more like two
servings than one.
I hope that helps! I know it’s all a great reminder for me.
No for the second part. How much of the added sugars each day? We’re talking table sugar and what’s added to processed foods. That’s a hard one to figure out – especially when we’re surrounded by summertime treats! And the info on how to figure it out is not clear.
Added Sugars – Figuring Out A Healthy Amount Each Day
We can do this: Just read the label and apply some very basic math.
HEALTH FACT: As mentioned above, there are two kinds of sugar: those naturally found in foods and those that are added to foods. I personally have a very difficult time managing the added sugars that are in nearly everything these days. I need every bit of help I can get to keep that sugar monster tamed!!! I know I’m not alone.
HEALTH FACT: Excessive sugar consumption from these ADDED SUGARS (not the ones occurring naturally in fruits etc. as discussed above) has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, tooth decay, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Ummmm, we know all that but it’s a good reminder!)
HEALTH FACT: The American Heart Association recommends no more than:
24 grams of added sugar for women and
36 grams of added sugar for men per day.
This amount varies from one health pro to the next, but this is a pretty good, safe ballpark. (Some say as low as 20 per day for men and women … I’m taking my 24!)
But truthfully, grams mean nothing to me! How to visualize it???
IMPORTANT MATH FACT: 4 grams = 1 teaspoon.
24 grams for women = 6 teaspoons of added sugar
36 grams for men = 9 teaspoons of added sugar
Which isn’t much … But now we can visualize it, which changes everything — at least for me.
How to figure it for any food? Just READ THE LABEL!
Just divide the total sugar grams on the nutrition facts label by the number 4 to get the teaspoons added! Easy!
Boxed Cake Mix: 1/12 of the cake = 16 grams, so 4 teaspoons.
Canned Frosting: 2 Tbsp = 21 grams, so 5 teaspoons
Cookie Dough: 2 Tbsp = 10 gram, so 2.5 teaspoons
Catsup: 1 Tbsp = 4 grams, so 1 teaspoon
McDonalds Caramel Sundae: 38, so 9. 5
Mountain Dew Drink, small 12 oz.: 24grams so 6 teaspoons
Soft Serve Vanilla Ice Cream Cone: 24 grams, so 6 teaspoons
McDonalds Hot Fudge Sundae: 47 grams so nearly 12 teaspoons
Well, you get the picture! But you know what? Just KNOWING how many teaspoons it is, and what our body’s needs make a BIG difference in being able to say “No thanks!” and “Let’s get a watermelon instead of cake” or “Let’s make banana ice cream with our Yonana frozen fruit ice cream maker!!”
For ourselves, for our kids and grandkids, for the present, for the future it’s a great thing, even a spiritually great thing, to be able to bravely look at the label and make a wise choice. (Remember??? “For the natural man is an enemy to God …”) We are not out to ruin anybody’s fun, but to maturely accept that it’s absolutely NO FUN FOR ANYONE when our health declines and we’re in trouble because of sugar. Come on! That’s a poor excuse and we all know it.
To me, it seems there are some grams there for having a small treat each day, and once in a while, it’s not going to be a problem to indulge and celebrate, knowing that as a rule of thumb, those sugar grams are respected and accounted for!
Our Heavenly Father would never, ever leave us without treats and pleasures! They’ve been around since the Garden of Eden and they’re still available today! lovely, luscious fruit in all its varieties – especially in the summer!
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups.
She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE